Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Buckfast Abbey: The Grange Cafe Review

It's not every day that I have lunch at a Benedictine monastery (Buckfast Abbey)

We had a wander around the gardens and the abbey.  The lavender, herbs and the roses stick in my mind as being beautiful.  There were plenty of nuns and monks around all in different attire - I think they were attending a conference on site.

The Grange is a great place to eat - it is attractive to behold from the outside - the food is all prepared locally (even the sandwiches).  There is no admission charge - there are tables inside and outside (under cover, with transparent wind shields, or exposed to the elements).  The tables outside have a great view of the gardens and abbey.  It seats about 300 people.

I had the lamb hot pot with vegetables and my husband had the meat lasagne.  They were both tasty (the lamb hot pot tasted of mint and had a really good amount of meat and vegetables in it, topped with many slices of crisped potatoes and then there was the mixed veg, cabbage, cauliflower cheese and extra gravy as accompaniments).  The cafe is self-service and it's the sort of place you can ask for a large portion if that's what you want!

We followed this with an Eccles cake (fruit soaked in the famous Buckie alcohol) and an enormous slice of treacle tart, bathed in golden syrup and served with a large dollop of clotted cream.  We both had a glass of Luscombe drinks.  I had the new Passionate Ginger Beer which I can heartily recommend.  The food is traditional, really well prepared and delicious - good value too.

The restaurant manager, Bernard, chatted to us whilst we finished our desserts and enjoyed the view in the sunshine.  He explained that they never know how many people are going to dine there each day but they pride themselves on preparing all their own food and they get by even when 60 people arrive unannounced.  He mentioned that they are also open for breakfast.  The salad bar was out of action today but there were salad boxes available for those who wanted them.  There is usually a hot counter and a cold one.

I enjoyed the whole experience, despite not being religious.  Buckfast Abbey and the Grange are beautiful places.  The Abbey has an air of tranquility, serving great grub with lovely views.

This is how I felt afterwards!  A sculpture just down from the cafe...The portions were big!

Friday, 22 May 2015

A Visit to Devon County Show 21 May 2015, Exeter

I went along to the show with my mother-in-law.  We headed straight to the food tent where we sampled many wonderful things including many prize-winning cheeses, chutney and the recently launched, delicious and versatile Shute Fruit raspberry vinegar.

Devon County Show at Westpoint near Exeter, is on 21-23 May 2015 (Thurs to Sat, not Sunday as many people think) and it is a great day out: there is a huge food tent, many stalls promoting things as diverse as tractors, care homes, local newspapers and windows!  There are also many things for children to get involved with - one good thing was the BBC tent where there was live music, some local newsreaders, lots of seating and friendship bracelets for the children to make for charity.

There were many tempting food vans selling their wares too.  We had a Farmer Tom's ice cream (honeycomb flavour) and a refreshing Bloom Berry juice.  Was the placing of the Hog Roast van at the end of the pig sheds an accident or not?!  Perhaps you needed to be a farmer to get that joke.

We saw many weird and wonderful animals: so many different breeds of chickens, ducks, goats, sheep, ponies, cattle and more...The sun was shining and it was really good to be outdoors.

This duck was very big!

We also enjoyed mooching around the traders' stalls and watching the animals being judged.  We didn't necessarily understand the criteria, but it was good to watch regardless.

 I think that it seemed a bit smaller (possibly after last year when torrential rain meant that the final day,Saturday, was cancelled and cars had to be taken out of the car parks by tractor on the Friday) but the show was still enormous, well-attended, really interesting and more than enough for me to see in one day (10am - 2pm).  The show was definitely quieter in the morning and got gradually busier as the afternoon progressed.